Mount Abe sets the standard for school safety fairs

BRISTOL — The Youth Safety Council of Vermont in collaboration with Mount Abraham Union High School has published a how-to guide for Vermont high schools that describes how Mount Abe produced a campus-wide safety fair: www.yscvt.org/safetyfairs.
On May 5 Mount Abe hosted presentations by numerous organizations, creating a daylong, campus-wide event with a “personal safety” theme for 400 students in grades 9-12. The fair, developed through the school year by faculty and students in partnership with the Youth Safety Council of Vermont, showcased safety knowledge from across the state.
The safety fair presented more than 25 workshops, presentations and speakers indoors and out. Participants in the fair included the Vermont State Police presenting forensic crash reconstruction techniques; a motorcycle simulator shared by Ride Safe VT; and Sharon Huntley speaking about the tragic loss of her teen son, Spencer, in a distraction-related crash. The Youth Safety Council presented “Turn Off Texting,” with students driving a golf cart while texting to learn first-hand how dangerous distracted driving can be. Many organizations including the Vermont Department of Health, UVM Medical Center, Alive at 25, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, AAA Northern New England, AT&T, WomenSafe, Fire Pro Tec, Bristol Rescue, Bristol Police, and others presented information and interacted with students.
A mock crash was the central educational experience of the fair, presented by the Mount Abraham students in conjunction with Bristol Fire, Police and Rescue departments.
With the assistance of Heritage Toyota, faculty, students and volunteers helped document the event to create the new online reference guide. The new guide is intended to help other Vermont high schools produce similar safety fairs with confidence and easy access to many freely available safety programs.
Heritage Toyota has also created a grant program to encourage Vermont schools to produce their own safety fairs. For any schools that would like to offer a safety fair in the 2017-2018 academic year, Heritage will offer a $250 grant incentive. The purpose of the grant is to fund the efforts of the schools to plan an educational event focused on teen driving safety. Interested schools can visit www.heritagevt.com/donation-requests to fill out the form and start the process.
Sharon Koller is student assistance program counselor at Mount Abraham and advisor to the student VTLSP club (Vermont Teen Leadership Safety Program). She facilitated the event planning.
“Mount Abraham has contributed energy and wisdom to help schools across Vermont guide their students toward safe decision-making, behind the wheel and in their daily lives,” said James Lockridge, executive director of the Youth Safety Council of Vermont. “The school and community came together like champions to create this new empowering resource. The experience makes us proud to serve such a caring and proactive state.”
The project was inspired by the work of the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance (VHSA), a non-profit organization that brings together highway safety stakeholders from all over Vermont, including state agencies and law enforcement as well as federal partners, insurance companies, and nonprofit organizations, vermonthighwaysafety.org.
“This initiative clearly shows the positive results from the collaboration amongst our many highway safety partners,” said Glen Button, chair of the VHSA. “The all-day safety fair at Mount Abraham high school was a great success and has set the standard for all Vermont high schools to achieve. The how-to-guide will help schools meet this goal.”

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